The life of a teen chef


by Tia

Joshua Bruun, a 17-year-old culinary enthusiast and founder of Foodies by Josh, shares insights into his vibrant journey in the food world. From creating surprising dishes to navigating kitchen mishaps, he dreams of culinary battles and reveals his secret ingredient for exceptional cooking. Balancing school, catering business, and food blogging, Joshua explores unique flavour combinations and dreams of organising grand culinary events. Inspired by his journey from adoption to culinary success, he offers advice to aspiring teen entrepreneurs in the food industry. Here are his insights:

What’s the most surprising dish you’ve ever created?

The most surprising dish I have ever made was duck meat. From slaughtering to plucking and marinating to grilling, the whole process was riveting for me. The aroma was amazing, I was thrilled to taste it, and to my surprise, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Duck meat has a great taste. It was one of the dishes that I have never made or had before and with my first attempt, it was amazing!

Can you share a funny kitchen disaster story with us?

My kitchen disaster story was when I was in the early stages of my culinary journey and I was attempting to cook pap. When I poured the maize meal into the boiling water and stirred, I stirred a little too long as the mixture thickened, and the porridge started boiling and jumping out of the pot. A hot drop landed on my hand, which made me forget about the pot that was boiling, so the porridge continued to jump out and the kitchen was in such a mess. My mom came to the rescue and she finished cooking the pap.

If you could have a cooking battle with any chef, who would it be and why?

There’s quite a number of people I’d choose. I’m a huge fan of Lorna Maseko, for instance, but I would choose a cooking battle with Mogau Seshoene “The Lazy Makoti” simply because I think that she is the girl she thinks she is! I love how she is so calmly spoken, but more importantly, because she is a best-selling author, she is a Gourmand World Award Winner and Cookbook Of The Year! I believe that there is so much to learn from her as I also want to have my own cookbook one day. It would not just be a cooking battle but it would be a chance for me to learn from the absolute best! I just love her so much! There are other chefs in the industry that I am a fan of but she takes the cup.

What’s your secret ingredient that makes every dish special?

There are several things that make up my secret ingredient and the first one is Love: every meal I make is an expression of my love since I pour my entire being into it. The second one is my Creativity: I don’t mind experimenting with unusual flavour combinations and thinking outside the box. Number three is my Passion: every meal I make is a reflection of my excitement and my passion for cooking. The fourth one is my Personal Touch: I include an original component that expresses who I am, such as a customised spice combination or a distinctive presentation technique. Next, my Experimentation: I don’t mind experimenting with new ingredients and methods to create interesting recipes and discoveries; and lastly my Dedication To Freshness: I only use the best, freshest ingredients available to ensure that every dish is flavourful and lively.

Taking cues from my favourite chefs, food bloggers, or social media sites, I modernise traditional recipes. My recipes are incredibly delicious and unique because of these hidden components.

How do you balance school life with running your catering business and food blogging?

It sounds like too much but I make notes in my head not to forget anything. It’s easier for me to diarise in my mind because I hardly ever forget tasks. As an academic achiever at school, too, I allocate time for studying, hosting, writing, and leisure. I work on my blog and catering during my free time. Catering is scheduled around my school activities, prioritising school first, of course. I take breaks and focus on what is important.I ask for help when I need it. I put my health first and say no when I have to. And when I am tired, I sleep a lot!

What’s the weirdest food combination you’ve tried that turned out to be surprisingly delicious?

A weird food combination that I have tried is normal white bread, ham, and mayonnaise with Simba Chips, especially the chutney flavour, which turned out to be the best combination. The softness of the bread and ham and the crunchiness of the Simba Chips/snacks blend in so well together. It was so weird, but I loved it!

If you had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Definitely South African cuisine, due to the wide variety of dishes there are. South African cuisine has been influenced by a mixture of African, Dutch, French, and Malay cultures, bringing a vibrant flavour to every dish. Each dish has its own unique story, and that is what makes it even more special. I love our cuisine because there is so much you can indulge in, it is truly amazing!

What’s your ultimate dream culinary project or event to organise?

A launch Lunch of my own brand and/or a launch of my own cookbook. A Cookbook Authorship where I also feature my own stories. It would be a dream come true to host a cooking show featuring other young chefs to share their culinary journey with a wider audience. Another big dream on my culinary bucket list is to cook and collaborate with a Michelin-starred chef to create an exclusive dinner experience. But Having a cookbook of my own would be a perfect accomplishment.

Who has been your biggest culinary inspiration and why?

Well, I have two culinary inspirations. The first is Siba Mtongana; growing up, I used to watch Siba on her cooking show “Siba’s Table” and I would also imagine myself in my own cooking show explaining to the “viewers” how I am making whatever it is I’m cooking. I think that is also one of the reasons why I wanted to thrive in the culinary industry from a young age. My second culinary inspiration in recent years is Jan Hendrik van Der Westhuizen. He was the first South African Chef with a Michelin Star. Chef Jan and I share some similarities because he would spend most of his time baking to avoid working on the tractor, and I would rather be in the kitchen whipping up an awesome dish than working in the garden with my Dad, not to say that I cannot do any hard labour, I just prefer being in my happy place which is the kitchen!

What advice would you give to other teens looking to start their own food-related business or blog?

Follow your passion, pursue your love for food and cooking and never be afraid to try new things. Start small, begin with a simple recipe or a small food stall, and gradually scale up. Be authentic, be yourself, and share your unique voice, story, and cooking style. Make sure you write engaging content, take quality photos, and invest in good photography to attract more followers/people.

As people, we all have dreams. It is important to dream and have goals, and for you to achieve that, you have to work hard. I achieve academic positions at school, too, because of hard work and most importantly because academic validation is a great feeling for me. I always say to myself “If you want it, go and get it! Nothing beats reaping the benefits of your hard work! We will all make it one way or another!

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